SAGAMORE HILLS -- With completion of the $68 million expansion and consolidation of Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare in Sagamore Hills last year, the state is clearing the 71-acre campus off Sagamore Road of obsolescent buildings. Demolition is expected to be finished by mid-May.

Starting in 2013, the state embarked on a 200,000-square-foot expansion at Northcoast, as part of a consolidation of operations from several buildings into one, 258-bed facility.

Along with new eight new residential wings, two residential wings were renovated. Additions also included a gymnasium/auditorium and three courtyards for patient use, a new admissions and clinic area, new dietary areas and a "social learning center," with music, a salon, a lounge and a courtroom. Existing space was renovated for treatment, staff training, on-site police and visitors. The new facility officially opened in 2015, with the final phase of construction being completed in 2016.

As the final phase of the project, a total of five buildings have been or are being demolished, a main building (Building 22) off Sagamore Road, a cottage and property management facility constructed in the late 1940s, a garage and picnic shelter.

The cost of the demolition was around $447,000, said Eric Wandersleben, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Mental Health. He said demolition was the most cost-effective option for the department.

"Building 22 was constructed in 1958 and needed a new roof -- estimated to be around $1.5 million," Wandersleben told the News Leader. "The rest of the facility would have required extensive renovations to be of continued use. If you use a standard estimate of $10 per square foot for renovation, the cost to rehab the 58,000-square-foot building could have potentially added an additional $5.8 million at a minimum."

He said that ODMH's long-term strategic plan has been to consolidate facilities.

"Closing Building 22 is part of that strategic plan to put all hospitals under a single roof," he said. "It's not a wise use of public dollars to heat/cool an empty building for which we have no intended use, so demolition emerged as the most cost-effective path forward."

He said Building 22 had been used temporarily to house patients while the construction was underway at the new facility and the cost of demolition was included in the budget for the expansion/renovation of the existing facility. He said the land on which the demolished buildings had sat will remain green space. Patients who had been housed in Cleveland, where the state closed its facility in 2011, are now housed at Northcoast Behavioral.

With around 400 employees, Northcoast Behavioral is one of the six state-run regional psychiatric hospitals in Ohio. It serves residents from Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Summit counties. The psychiatric facility was founded in 1941 and was originally Hawthornden State Hospital, becoming Northcoast Behavioral Center in the 1990s. Officials said that at one time, the facility housed more than 2,000 patients.

Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433

Email: emarotta@recordpub.com